How much longer Grant can remain a top the “funny love story” mountain remains to be seen. And though “Music and Lyrics” will never reach classic status, it holds just enough to keep Grant from falling off his perch.
Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Johnston, Jason Antoon, Billy Griffith
Someone said to me recently, “Where are all the funny love stories?” I quickly realized he wasn’t talking about my high school adventures in dating (or the lack thereof) but was instead expressing an oft-opined view that they just don’t make romantic comedies like they used to. Actually, I hadn’t given it much thought until I saw Hugh Grant—the guy crusading for the “Most Appearances In A Romantic Comedy” award—in his newest film “Music and Lyrics”. Before that came “American Dreamz”, “Bridget Jones” (I & II), “Love Actually”, “Mickey Blue Eyes”, “Notting Hill”, “Sense and Sensibility”, “Nine Months” and “Four Weddings and A Funeral” just to name a few. And if we’re being completely open here, only “Bridget Jones Diary” (number one) can be considered a “classic” romantic comedy. The others had their moments, but can’t keep up with films like “When Harry Met Sally”, “As Good As It Gets”, and “Pretty Woman” or older classics like “The Graduate” and “Bringing Up Baby”. But give Grant and director/writer Marc Lawrence for almost coming close.
The film opens with a video from fictional 80’s band Pop! (obviously modeled after the real 80’s band Wham!) with singer Alex Fletcher (Grant) shaking his booty for one of Pop!’s biggest hits. But that was twenty years ago and today Alex works his oldies act in hotel ballrooms and state fairs. When his manager (Brad Garrett) learns that current pop star Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) wants Alex to write a song for her new album (but giving him just a few days to pull it off) Alex desperately searches for a lyricist to match his music-writing skills. That’s when a strange plant lady, Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) suddenly becomes the lyrics lady. As the writing takes off, so does their relationship.
While Barrymore adequately plays her part as a whacky, insecure hypochondriac, it’s Grant’s delivery of some killer one-liners that saves it from being just another Hugh Grant comedy. For the first two-thirds of the film I’m sometimes reminded of Dudley Moore’s performance in “Arthur”. The dialogue is quick and intelligent. Unfortunately, the “just another Hugh Grant comedy” begins to surface toward the latter part of the film with a fairly predictable conclusion.
Newcomer Bennett is wonderfully perfect as the Britney/Christina-like, sexy pop diva. And Kristen Johnston from TV’s “3rd Rock from the Sun” is great as Sophie’s older, dizzy sister and fawning Pop! fan. How much longer Grant can remain a top the “funny love story” mountain remains to be seen. And though “Music and Lyrics” will never reach classic status, it holds just enough to keep Grant from falling off his perch.
Reviewer : Tim Basham